Psychiatric assessment for plane bomb threat

Sadegh

Sadegh "Simon" Shahi spoke briefly to media outside Brampton court Saturday after his son, Ali Shahi, was granted release on $1,000 bail. (Chris Doucette/Toronto Sun)

, Last Updated: 7:50 PM ET

A man accused of making bomb threats while on a Sunwing flight to Panama Friday was released on bail.

But Ali Shahi won't be going home just yet.

After many hours of negotiations behind closed doors inside the courthouse, the 25-year-old Mississauga man's parents arranged for their son to be taken directly to a hospital for psychiatric care.

"I hope finally somebody will do something," a visibly relieved Sadegh "Simon" Shahi said outside court Saturday, explaining his son "needs serious help" for mental health issues he has suffered since he was a teenager.

While he and his wife, Elham Shahi, were quite willing to pay the $1,000 bond the court ordered for Ali Shahi's release into their custody, they did not want their son to come home with them.

Sadegh Shahi said his son is "a very nice guy," who "wouldn't hurt a mosquito," but he is prone to sudden outbursts that often include threatening statements like those he's accused of uttering Friday while on board Sunwing Flight 772.

Ali Shahi was on the plane ─ somewhere over West Virginia ─ with his long-time girlfriend and 181 other passengers heading for vacation in Central America Friday morning when his latest outburst allegedly occurred.

His family says he became upset about 45 minutes after takeoff when he learned cigarettes were cheaper on the plane than at the duty-free shop back at Pearson International Airport.

Sunwing Airlines claimed shortly before 8 a.m. "an agitated customer made a direct threat against the aircraft."

The alleged threat prompted the crew to turn the flight around and head back to Toronto. Two F-16 fighter jets accompanied Flight 772 until it cleared U.S. air space.

The plane was met on the tarmac at Pearson by Peel Regional Police tactical officers and Ali Shahi was taken into custody.

He is charged with mischief to property, mischief interfering with the lawful enjoyment of property, uttering threats and endangering safety of aircraft.

He was granted release on bail under strict conditions that prohibit him from boarding any aircraft or attending Pearson airport.

One relative, who was among several family members in court to support Ali Shahi, said he believes the airline and police overreacted.

"They scared all of the other passengers for nothing," said the man, who would not give his name.

The relative explained the accused was overweight as a youngster and then as a teen he became bulimic and lost over 100 pounds. Depression and other mental health concerns began to surface soon after.

Ali Shahi left home to study at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay in 2010, but instead of earning a degree he came home months later with a gambling addiction.

Although the accused has no criminal record, his dad said he's had some 23 encounters with police in recent years because of his outbursts.

Sadegh Shahi said he and his wife have tried in vain for years to get their son to seek treatment and take medication. They even paid for Ali Shahi, who is unemployed, to take the trip to Panama believing it would be good for him to get away.

The couple hopes he will now get the help he needs.

Shahi said his son will be hospitalized for at least 72 hours, hopefully longer, but it will be up to the doctors.

Ali Shahi next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 25.

chris.doucette@sunmedia.ca

 


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